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2006 News Archive
IDI Celebrates 1000th Graduate

June 30, 2006: The number of healthcare workers who have received specialized HIV/AIDS training at the Infectious Diseases Institute, Makerere University (IDI) has crossed the 1000 mark. Dr. Mariam Luyiga, a Medical Officer with TASO, became the 1000th graduate of the HIV/AIDS Training Programme at IDI. She has graduated today alongside 20 other trainees after completing modules on paediatric HIV/AIDS, mother-to-child HIV transmission and research. "I feel great about being the 1000th but what is most important is the knowledge I acquired from this place. I learnt many things including how to start patients on ARVs, when to change drugs, handling side effects, and above all I got hands-on experience," said Dr. Luyiga. She added: "I was running an ARV programme but I felt I was still lacking in some ways because what I had acquired from the medical school at the time I graduated was not enough. I recommend that all health professionals in clinical practice come to do this course. HIV management is dynamic and you can never stick to the old little things you learnt in the past."

The Uganda Minister of State for Primary Health Care, Dr. Emmanuel Otala, presided over the graduation ceremony. Others present included the Vice Chancellor Makerere University, Prof. Livingstone Luboobi; Associate Dean Faculty of Medicine, Prof. Sam Luboga and the Director IDI, Prof. Keith McAdam.

With this graduation, IDI has now trained a total of 1,017 healthcare workers from 23 African countries. As explained by the IDI Director, Prof. Keith McAdam, a much larger number of health workers have benefited indirectly from the Training Programme through those trained at IDI, who go back to their work places and train others. An earlier survey showed that within four months of training at IDI, each alumnus had coached and mentored an average of 20 others per month in their places of work. "I'm delighted about reaching this landmark which represents not only those we teach, but also others they teach," said Prof. McAdam. Dr. Gisela Schneider, Head of Training at IDI, added: "If you have 1,000 people trained and each of them trains at least 10 others, that is 10,000 people trained. So celebrating 1,000 means celebrating thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people treated correctly."

At IDI, healthcare workers learn how to manage clients on antiretroviral therapy, treat HIV-related complications, plan and manage HIV/AIDS programmes, prevent spread of the virus, carry out research and train others. This year IDI built partnerships with other stakeholders to expand its training capacity in other fields such as malaria. IDI works closely with the Ministry of Health particularly Mulago Hospital, AIDS Control Programme and National Malaria Control Programme in addition to the Faculty of Medicine, Makerere University. The Joint Clinical Research Centre, Mildmay International, Paediatric Infectious Diseases Clinic, Makerere University – Johns Hopkins collaboration, Uganda Cares, Reach Out Mbuya and many others are strong partners in the IDI Training Programme.

Chinese Prime Minister Visits IDI

June 24, 2006: The Chinese Prime Minister, His Excellency Wen Jiabao, today visited the Infectious Diseases Institute, Makerere University.

Jiabao shook hands with several persons living with HIV who were singing, dancing, drawing pictures and playing board games. He joined them in beating the Baganda traditional drum, attracting wild cheers. He observed laboratory technicians drawing blood samples and doctors, nurses and counsellors examining patients.

A Friend of IDI, Rose Kawesa, told H.E. Jiabao that the free antiretroviral therapy at IDI had given her a new lease of life. "Now I realise that HIV infection is no longer a death sentence. I'm feeling well despite a few challenges in my body. I'm now able to work and look after my children," she said. "I appeal to the international community to increase their support so that all people who need ARVS can get them."

H.E. Jiabao, who spent 45 minutes at IDI, described the visit as an emotional experience. "I really feel sad for the Friends for what they are going through. At the same time I'm deeply touched by the care and support extended to them by IDI," Jiabao said.

The Chinese premier then donated $100,000 and eight laptop computers to IDI. "AIDS has posed a global challenge to all, thus to control and conquer this devil would require concerted efforts of all," he said.

The Chinese Premier was accompanied by the Uganda Prime Minister, Prof. Apolo Nsibambi. The Minister of Health, Dr. Stephen Malinga; two Ministers of State for Health, Dr. Richard Nduhura and Dr. Emmanuel Otala; the Director of IDI, Prof. Keith McAdam; the Vice Chancellor Makerere University, Prof. Livingstone Luboobi; the Dean Faculty of Medicine, Prof. Nelson Sewankambo; the Executive Director of Mulago Hospital, Dr. Edward Ddumba and senior health officials received him at IDI.

Prof. McAdam explained how the adult clinic at IDI had been transformed into a lively centre where people sing, dance, paint, play board games and gain confidence to tell their stories. "In all we do, we seek to serve those living with HIV/AIDS. Importantly we regard them not as the problem but as a key part to the solution," Prof. McAdam said. Indeed, while we used to call our patients clients, we now call them ‘mikwano gyaffe' or ‘or friends'."

The IDI, an independent institute owned by Makerere University, now cares for more than 8,000 persons living with HIV and has trained nearly 1,000 medical workers from 23 African countries on how to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS. The institute's mission is to build capacity in Africa for the delivery of sustainable, high quality HIV/AIDS care and prevention through training and research.

Dr. Allan Ronald Receives Wightman Award

June 23, 2006: Dr. Allan R. Ronald, a pioneer of the University of Manitoba's world-renowned infectious disease research program in Africa, has been named the recipient of the 2006 Wightman Award.

The prestigious award, which is given by the Gairdner Foundation, recognizes Canadians who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in medicine and medical science.

The announcement was made on June 22 by Dr. John Dirks, president of the Gairdner Foundation. The Gairdner Medical Advisory Board cited Ronald "for his leadership in developing the specialty of clinical infectious disease in Canada and for his exceptional international contribution in Africa."

"We are most pleased that Dr. Ronald was chosen from a group of outstanding Canadians for his special achievement in medicine, not only in Canada, but the world," said Dirks. "An extraordinarily modest man, he has quietly and determinedly pushed for improvements for those afflicted with infectious disease, including HIV/AIDS, without fanfare or desiring public acclaim. He is there simply to help and to lead."

Ronald has spent the better part of three decades studying infectious diseases in Africa including helping to establish one of the first clinical investigation units studying HIV/AIDS in Africa in 1978.

In 2002, Ronald retired from a distinguished 35-year career as a professor and medical researcher but has kept busy fostering the HIV/AIDS Care and Prevention Program in Uganda. This successful launch of a drug distribution program has received worldwide media coverage.

Born in Portage la Prairie, Ronald trained in Manitoba, Maryland, Washington and Pakistan before returning to the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Medicine in 1968 to head its infectious disease unit.

A full professor since 1976, he led the first department of medical microbiology (1976-1985) and then the department of internal medicine (1985-1990) and served as the Medicine's associate dean of research (1993-1999).

Ronald also applied his expertise in Winnipeg's teaching hospitals, initially as Head of Clinical Microbiology and later as Physician-in-Chief at the Health Sciences Centre and subsequently at St. Boniface General Hospital as Head of Infectious Diseases

In 1979, he was invited to coordinate a research training centre in Nairobi, Kenya, where he and other members of the Faculty of Medicine have significantly advanced HIV/AIDS prevention programs and the understanding of HIV transmission. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Nairobi on over 40 occasions and at the University of Hong Kong, where he assisted in the development of an Infectious Disease Program.

In addition, he has written more than 400 publications and served on various boards and councils including the International Society of Infectious Diseases (as president), the American College of Physicians, and the Medical Research Council.

He has received awards from, among others, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the Canadian Association of Professors of Medicine, the American Venereal Disease Association, and the Canadian Medical Association, which in 2003 presented him with its highest honour, the F.N.G. Starr Award. Ronald is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Established in 1957 by Toronto businessman, James Gairdner, the Gairdner Foundation ( first recognized achievement in medical science in 1959. Since then, the Gairdners have grown to be one of the most prestigious international awards in medical research, recognizing outstanding contributions by medical scientists worldwide whose work will significantly improve the quality of life. The award includes a $30,000 prize.

Since 2003, the lead national sponsor of the Gairdner awards has been the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the major federal agency responsible for funding health research in Canada, supporting the work of 10,000 researchers in universities, teaching hospitals and research institutes across Canada. It aims to excel in the creation of new health knowledge, and to translate that knowledge from the research setting into real world applications. The results are improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system.

The Gairdner Wightman Award is named after the late Professor K.G.R. Wightman, former President of the Gairdner Foundation and Eaton Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto.

The Wightman has now been awarded 11 times, the latest in 2001 when it was given to Dr. Henry Friesen, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba. Dr. Friesen was the driving force behind the creation of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, and the Chairman Emeritus of Genome Canada.


For more information, contact:

Michael Marshall

University of Manitoba
Homepage Coordinator
Public Affairs
Phone: (204) 474-7962

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